Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ode to Claire on Your Sixth Birthday

My Dearest Claire,

I want to tell you a funny story...

Long before you were born, papa and I were watching a movie and the main character--a feisty, classic, beautiful, impetuous girl named Claire captured my attention.  I fell in love with her.  Later that evening, I had a dream that our family was not yet complete.  We were supposed to have an addition, a little girl named Claire.

Fast forward to a snowy, blustery cold afternoon on December 14, 2010--we were in the hospital delivering was the second to last push and I started sobbing...I mean I literally could not stop crying....not because I was in pain, but because I was afraid.

My doctor came to one side of me and papa came to the other.  She leaned down and said, "Kelly, what's wrong?  You're a pro at this...she is your third child.  What's wrong?"  With tears streaming down my face, I said, "I don't know.  I just think that something really big and amazing is coming into the world."

When you emerged, the umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck four times.  Immediately and like a lasso, the doctor freed you and you belted the most piercing screech I'd ever heard.  It was a terrifying and exhilarating feeling.

And the truth is, you've been screaming ever since. 

Even though you are a petite, blonde haired, blue eyed little girl, you are bold and powerful and you rarely take no for an answer which is why your daddy and I find ourselves beating our heads against a wall.

When you decide that you want something--whether it is a piece of banana bread, a container of chocolate milk or world peace, you are singularly focused and a have a level of determination that is unparalleled and usually means that through the sheer force of your will, it will happen.

A few months ago, you began all-day are learning to write, to read, to do more complex math problems, to negotiate with your classmates and to follow the direction of someone other than me.  And you are in your element.  A social butterfly, you flit from one friend to the next, confident and capable in your ability to lead the way on the monkey bars and to fairly trade a Gogurt for a bag of Goldfish at lunch time.

To be honest with you, we are not terribly alike.

You are hard headed, fearless, persistent, formidable and stand unfazed if someone does not like your opinion or your persona--I am far more worried about what others think of me.  And for this aspect of your character, I stand in awe.  I yearn to have the chutzpa that you do and to so freely and largely inhabit the space that you do. 

You are beautiful and brilliant and a little mean all wrapped in one tightly powerful bundle.  As you grow, which I know that much to my chagrin, you will just continue to do, may you never stray from who you are.  Be belligerent.  Stay feisty.  Keep them guessing.  Give a little grief.  But remember that in the end, love always wins and that it is more important to be kind than to be right.

Your daddy and I love you beyond words.  We couldn't imagine our family or our home without you.  The Happiest of Sixth Birthdays, Claire!  Thank you for choosing to come barreling into our lives and for the cacophony of love you bring.

To the moon and back,

love, mama

Monday, December 5, 2016

Clenching Mercy

Pivoting in short, choppy--often, incomplete motions.

Back and forth.

Left and right.

Can't forget this and that.

All of it matters.

Whatever you do, don't stop.

These snap shots have been my life for the better part of several weeks.

Some of it is has been expected and is a remembered part of this season, but a good chunk of it is new.

Managing deadlines both at home and work.  Looking down to see that both my belly and my ass have grown a little too comfortable making my jeans a little uncomfortable.  Realizing that my kid has a project due that isn't just his but involves three others and supplies and it's Sunday night.  Watching my five-year old daughter count down the days until Christmas, swearing that I'll order that thing this afternoon or carve out time to really decide what in the hell Santa is going to put under the tree.  Wondering why I took on that volunteer "opportunity" and how it is that I will have all three children in different spots at the same time? Trying to plan a meaningful graduate course terrified that the students will call me out as a fraud.

While I was doing the dishes and editing the grocery list and grabbing the towels...I heard the extraordinary writer, Mark Nepo define poetry as the unexpected utterance of the soul and the frailty of the human condition as:

And I was reminded, yet again that this deal we do is hard.  Let's not mince words.  From time to time, it fucking sucks.  A good chunk of it is spent enduring instead of standing open to the possibility of what the day brings.

So in that moment, I just stood


And breathed, a sigh of relief.

A really, really big breath.

And I closed my eyes and un-closed my fists and tried to receive whatever it is that the world had for me.

And while in the moment, I had to grin thinking that I extrapolate ad nauseam about the power of possibility and standing open to the availability of the extraordinary in the daily mundane....until it comes to me....and my life slowly turns into..."well, everything will be better once I make it to Thursday night or Sunday morning."  Meanwhile, a million moments go by and my teeth are clenched, my stomach is in knots, my mental to-do lists are cycled through repetitively and I'm just making it.  Most of the time, it's not a bad making's just a dulled engagement of what could be.

Mercy is trusting that you don't have to know.

It's the indomitable fact that you can't possibly be in control all of the time and that surrendering to what could be is the greatest form of inhabiting the moment as imperfectly and beautifully as one can.

And so this morning on my run, I released. little by little...unsure but hopeful...which I think is my mantra for the new year.

I'm done with knowing.

I'm in need of mercy and grace and the divine and the blessed possibility that comes with the great unknown.